Rittenhouse Prosecutor Thomas Binger Has Swung and Missed Before at Charging Armed Self-Defense

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

From his opening statement to closing argument, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger has not just made missteps, as the legacy media loves to call them, he has literally stepped in the muck, then kept wading in up to his knees.

My colleagues Nick Arama and Jim Thompson are working attorneys, and don’t just play ones on TV. Along with our other contributors that have covered the trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, they have given us great analysis on just how badly Binger has screwed up an already weak case that should have never been brought to trial.

From Jim Thompson’s analysis:

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger’s opening statement sounded more like a closing argument and I think, could be turned on its head by the defense. Binger claimed that Rittenhouse wasn’t pursued by Rosenbaum — rather, Rittenhouse was the pursuer. That’s a significant claim. In an opening statement, you’re supposed to address what the evidence will show. If Rittenhouse was the pursuer that would justify filing murder charges. But, he wasn’t a pursuer. None of the video supports that – in fact, just the opposite.

Both Thompson and Arama also pointed to the fact that Binger seemed intent on arguing the case for the defense not only with his behavior, but his questions to witnesses.

From Nick Arama’s analysis:

Binger was trying to get the Daily Caller’s Richie McGinniss to say that Rosenbaum was already falling to the ground when he was shot. Keep in mind — McGinniss is supposed to be the prosecution’s witness. McGinniss said that wasn’t his testimony, maintaining that Rosenbaum was “lunging” at Rittenhouse.

This is how weak their case is — their own witnesses are providing golden evidence that helps the defense. Binger should have stopped with that embarrassment. But he didn’t. He then did the one thing that lawyers are taught never to do — never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.

The Daily Mail UK reported that the case was deliberately thrown into Binger’s lap because Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley knew it was a weak case and he didn’t want the stain on his rock star record.

The choice of prosecutor for Kyle Rittenhouse‘s murder case could be a precise pointer as to how little confidence the County District Attorney had in securing a conviction.

Mike Graveley, the Kenosha County DA would normally have taken the case himself, but instead handed it down to assistant DA Thomas Binger, whose presentation of the case in Wisconsin has been marked with missteps and clashes with Judge Bruce Schroeder.

‘Binger was set up for failure,’ one Kenosha legal insider told Dailymail.com. ‘Graveley is the superstar and he knew this one was sure to tarnish it.’

Despite the stink emanating from his designer pants and shoes as he wades through crap of his own making, Binger seems intent on making the most of his 15 Minutes, swinging for the fences at every foul.

Binger seems to have no problem in shading the truth to the jury. On more than one instance, he was quite content to piss off Judge Bruce Schroeder, as Fox News reported:

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked a number of out-of-bounds questions or made unethical implications during his cross-examination.

Rittenhouse’s attorney also accused Binger of commenting on his client’s right to remain silent about the case, to which Binger responded that the defendant was tailoring his testimony to details already introduced in court.

That also angered Schroeder, who called it a “grave constitutional violation” to talk about the defendant’s silence and warning him that he “better stop.”

“That’s basically, it’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years,” Schroeder said. “I have no idea why you would do something like that.”

The Daily Mail UK further reported on another incident where Binger brought up information that Judge Schroeder had already deemed inadmissible:

Schroeder during the trial reprimanded Binger for bringing up information that had previously been barred from the court about Rittenhouse’s history with an AR-15 rifle. An incident was caught on video two weeks prior to the shootings in which Rittenhouse talked about shooting men he believed were shoplifting at a pharmacy.

Schroeder had already ruled video inadmissible.

‘You’re an experienced trial attorney and you’re telling me when the judge says, ‘I’m excluding this’ you decide to bring it in because you think you’ve found a way around it,’ Schroeder asked. ‘Come on!’

Binger replied: ‘You can yell at me if you want. I was acting in good faith.’

Judge Schroeder responded: ‘I don’t believe you. When you say you were acting in good faith, I don’t believe you. There better not be another incident.’

It is still a matter of speculation whether Binger was trying to force a mistrial, or if he simply wanted to go on a “chaotic quest” to challenge the right to armed self-defense, as Rittenhouse’s attorney Mark Richards contended in the pre-trial hearings.

“The government can go off on their chaotic quest but the evidence is clear,” Richards said.

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial is not the first time that Binger has brought such charges, where those charges failed to stand up under scrutiny, and where the state ended up being, well… without hip waders.

In 2017, The state of Wisconsin sought to charge a commercial truck driver with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

From an August 30, 2017, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:

A case that might have clarified whether you can drive while armed in Wisconsin was dismissed Monday, the day it was scheduled for trial.

The issue is whether you can drive with a loaded handgun within reach, even without having a concealed carry permit.

Guy A. Smith, a 52-year-old commercial truck driver from Merrill, believes, as does a gun rights organization, that you can. That’s why he said he made no effort to hide his revolver when inspectors entered his big rig at a weigh station in Pleasant Prairie in June 2016.

Inspectors saw it on the floor of his cab via an overhead camera, then approached Smith and cited him for carrying a concealed weapon, a misdemeanor, and seized his gun.

Smith was represented by John Monroe, a Georgia-based attorney who has successfully defended many gun rights advocates, including those charged with openly carrying guns before Wisconsin’s passage of Act 35, which first allowed for concealed carry with a license.

The organization Wisconsin Carry Inc. was paying for Smith’s defense because it thought it might eliminate some law enforcement confusion about the statutes.

“The charge should never have been filed because in 2011 the Legislature changed the law to allow handguns in cars to be unencased and loaded,” Monroe said in an email Monday. “Carrying a concealed weapon is no longer a crime applicable to handguns in vehicles.

In this case, the state dropped the charges before it went to trial.

“We are pleased the state came to its senses before wasting the taxpayers’ money on a trial,” Monroe said, “even if the state did not afford us the courtesy of telling us it would dismiss the case before we prepared for a trial and traveled to Kenosha.”

The assistant district attorney at November’s hearing, Thomas Binger, suggested Smith could easily have gotten a concealed carry permit.

After that hearing, Smith said he didn’t get one because he didn’t need to.

“I’m just a trucker trying to stay alive,” he said. “I want my gun back, and I don’t want a record, and I’m not paying a fine. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Binger was in court Tuesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.

It seems Binger desires to craft case law to suit his gun-control fancies, rather than case law that builds on actual precedent. He also seems to feel that wasting the state and taxpayer time and money is appropriate legal strategy, rather than a fatal flaw.

Binger is not new to the legal profession. He graduated 25 years ago from Michigan Law School and has over 12 years of experience in the state’s prosecutorial offices. Binger served in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office from 1999-2005, where he rose through the ranks to become assistant district attorney.

Strangely, he left the Milwaukee County DA in 2005 to become the director of litigation at DeMark, Kolbe & Brodek Law. He stayed at this firm until 2014, then went back to “public service” when he joined the Kenosha County District Attorney’s office.

According to another Daily Mail UK article, in 2016, Binger ran as a Democrat for District Attorney of Racine County, but lost the race.

After watching his performance on this trial, I ponder how he even rose to assistant district attorney. However, when you’re a Democrat, failing up seems to be part of the program.

One wonders if Binger thought this case would polish his credentials for higher office and maybe bigger and better things. If that is his career strategy, he is as deluded as he is incompetent. Poor judgment, and mishandling a major trial are failures that should get you drummed out of office, not elevate you to a higher station.

Much will be revealed when the jury verdict is rendered.